Care and Maintenance of Stringed Instruments

12/01/2017

Wrtten by: Remenyi House of Music

Stringed instruments are traditionally constructed of fine select, seasoned wood. They live, breath and react to the atmospheric conditions that surround them. They are susceptible to damage from extremes of dryness, humidity, temperature, as well as from abuse and neglect. The top, or resonating membrane is usually of straight grained spruce, while backs, sides, neck and head of maple, or other hardwoods. Together they bear the considerable stress from the tension of the strings and act as a tone-chamber to produce the sound you hear when playing. Treat the instrument as a sensitive being – The temperature and humidity levels that are comfortable for humans will be right for a fine instrument. 

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QUICK TIPS for care of Bowed String Instruments: 

Always store your instrument safely in its case when not in use. Make sure that the case is securely closed. Leaving the instrument exposed, on a table or chair, sofa or open surface is an invitation for accidents to happen. Make sure to remember to loosen the tension on the bow prior to replacing it in its case when you are finished playing. Leaving the tension on the hair will result in warpage and often, eventual breakage of the stick. Be sure to wipe dust and rosin deposit from your instrument, strings and bow. A good quality polish should be used at regular intervals. It should not contain abrasives nor solvents. Never hang your instrument on a music stand, as this could damage the finish and the wood. When your instrument is not in use, it should be in its case. If you must set your instrument down, always do so string side up. 
 
Never leave your instrument unattended unless securely locked away. Leaving it in a car will expose it to extreme temperatures, or sudden temperature changes. Always have a humidifier in the case, filled with distilled water. Dryness is a greater enemy than high humidity level. 

Plucked String Instruments: Guitars, Mandolins, Ukeleles, etc: 

Much of what was said about bowed instruments applies to the guitar family as well. 
 
Be sure your instrument is stored in a quality gig bag or case when it is not in use. As with all instruments, they need to be protected from extremes and sudden shifts in humidity and temperature. 
 
When changing strings, remove one string at a time while leaving the others tuned. The truss rod on guitars is designed to offer counter tension for the strings. Removing string tension all at once can cause the neck to bend or warp. 
 
Depending on how often you play, change the strings on your guitar regularly. Tired strings lose clarity and projection. While changing the strings, don’t forget to clean the frets and the fingerboard with a suitable cleanser and lubricant. A variety of such products are available in our guitar department. 
 
Bring your guitar into a reputable luthier, or music shop for regular checkups. This is especially important if you are not experienced with proper maintenance techniques, or if you travel frequently with your instrument. 

Final Tip:

Never hesitate to bring your instrument to our experienced staff. Remenyi House of Music’s reputation is built on always offering cheerful, knowledgeable assistance and advice. 
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